13 men, 3 women sit on death row

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At the end of December 2021, there were sixteen persons – 13 men and three women sitting on death row in Guyana. The majority of them have filed appeals against the capital punishment which has not been carried out since 1997.

Those on death row have all been convicted of murder.

They are Dennis Williams, Mark Williams, Burt Lancaster, Aaron Hing, Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordan, Deon Greenidge, Cyon Collier, Davanand Tilacknauth, Kenrick Lyte, Imran Ramsaywack, Bibi Nazeela Habiboodean, Linden Lewis, Hemwattie Abdulla, Seerojini Permaul, and Abishai Caesar.

Aaron Hing

In November 2021, 30-year-old Aaron Hing was sentenced to death for the murder of his godbrother British teenager, Dominic Bernard. Bernard, called “Dom”, 18, had travelled to Guyana from Epsom, England, on October 14, 2015, for a three-week vacation, and to pursue his film-making career.

He was picked up from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) by his godbrother and his godbrother’s friend in a rented car. After Bernard failed to return home on November 5, 2015, his father travelled to Guyana where he sought assistance from the Police with probing his son’s disappearance.

Bernard was bludgeoned to death hours after he landed in Guyana, and was later buried in a shallow grave that was dug days prior to his arrival. His decomposed body, which was badly mutilated, was found on January 8, 2016, in the grave in the backlands at Nurney, Corentyne, Berbice.

An autopsy revealed that the teenager had been struck to the back of the head. He sustained a fractured skull as well as a broken neck. Police recovered a hammer which is believed to be one of the murder weapons. Hing confessed to killing his godbrother to “get back at him” for getting him arrested in London.

Bibi Nazeela Habiboodean and Linden Lewis

Then in October 2021, Bibi Nazeela Habiboodean and Linden Lewis were each sentenced to death in a manner prescribed in law after they were found guilty of murdering her elderly father over a decade ago.

Bibi, who is said to be in her 50s, had only paid Lewis, 34, $5000 and promised him a house, land, and a car to beat her 76-year-old father, Habiboodean (only name given) to compel the elderly man to sign over his property to her.

The businessman of Ruby, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), was badly beaten at his home on February 14, 2008. The pensioner, who owned a gas station, died the following day while receiving treatment at a private city hospital.

Abishai Caesar

And in June 2021, Abishai Caesar, 36, of Tuschen, EBE, was handed the death sentence after a jury found him guilty on three counts of murder over the deaths of businesswoman Jennifer Persaud and her two young sons.

Between September 22 and 24, 2012, at Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara (WCD), he murdered 41-year-old Persaud and her sons Afridi Bacchus, 6; and 18-month-old Jadon Ernest.

It was reported that Persaud, who owned a liquor store and bar, along with her two sons were discovered in their home with their throats slit. The woman’s body was found on a bed with Afridi on top of her.

Jadon, on the other hand, was found on the floor next to the bed. Caesar was only apprehended for the murders in 2016 after his reputed wife, Zoey Phillips, told detectives that he had confided in her about killing the family.

Hemwattie Abdulla and Seerojini Permaul

Hemwattie Abdulla, also known as “Annie”, and her friend, Seerojini Permaul, known as “Usha”, were in 2018, sentenced to death for murdering her husband, Abdool Shakeel Majid back in 2012.

The prosecution’s case was that Abdulla arranged the murder of her husband for the money which he had received from an accident in the US and got Permaul to assist her in executing the plot.

Majid and his wife had arrived in Guyana back in April 2012 from the USA for a vacation. However, five days after, Majid’s battered body with the scalp missing was found on the Number 63 Beach in Corentyne, Berbice.

By then, Abdulla had returned to the US where she is a resident and had informed her dead husband’s relatives that he had gone to Suriname. It was a relative of the now dead man who found his suitcase and other personal belongings including his passport at a house and called in the Police.

Dennis Williams and Mark Williams

Mark “Smallie” Williams and Dennis “Anaconda” Williams have been sentenced to death for eight and seven counts of murder, respectively, over the 2008 Bartica massacre. Also, they were each sentenced to life imprisonment for four and five counts of manslaughter, respectively, in relation to the mass killing.

On February 17, 2008, several gunmen attacked the mining community of Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) killing 12 residents and injuring several others. The group of about 20 gunmen arrived at Bartica by speedboat.

They landed at the Transport and Harbour wharf around 10 pm.

Upon arrival, they attacked the Bartica Police Station, killing Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks, and Constable Ron Osbornes.

The gang then stole cash, arms, ammunition, and a vehicle from the Police station. Using the stolen Police vehicle, they drove through the streets of Bartica, shooting at civilians. They fatally wounded Irwin Gilkes. They then proceeded to CBR Mining, where they killed Irving Ferreira.

Next, they shot and killed Dexter Adrian before returning to the wharf. While at the wharf, they executed Abdool Yassin Jr, Deonarine Singh, Errol Thomas, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh, and Ashraf Khan.

Burt Lancaster

In 2012, Burt Lancaster was found guilty of the murder of taxi driver Deonarine Sookdeo. According to reports, Sookdeo died between April 19 and 26, 2006.

Lancaster called “Moses”, and his co-worker Daywan Kawal called “Avinash”, left work around midday on April 19, 2006, and went to Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD), where they hired a taxi to go to Soesdyke, EBD.

While on their way, the driver of the vehicle, Sookdeo, stopped at a gas station. It was then that the workmates allegedly decided to rob the taxi driver. They reportedly asked the driver to take them up a trail in Kuru Kuru, Linden-Soesdyke, Highway. Once on the trail, they reportedly used a weapon to inflict injuries on Sookdeo whose badly decomposed body was later found in the area.

Sherwin Hart, Deon Greenidge, and Devon Gordon

In 2013, former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guards, Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordon, and Deon Greenidge were sentenced to death for the August 2009 murder of Bartica gold miner Dwieve Kant Ramdass.

The prosecution’s case is that on August 20, 2009, at Caiman Hole in the Essequibo River, they forced Ramdass into their boat and took him to the aforementioned location where they relieved him of $17 million in cash he was carrying in a box to Bartica for his employer, before dumping him overboard.

Kenrick Lyte

Kenrick Lyte of Good Intent, Lower Pomeroon River, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) is on death row for the murder of Osmond Fiedtkou, 72. The murder took place between July 9 and 13, 2014, at Groete Creek, Essequibo River.

According to the prosecution’s case, Lyte and the pensioner were alone in a boat when an argument ensued over monies owed to the pensioner by Lyte. It was contended that Lyte took a shotgun that was inside the boat and shot the pensioner to his chest then threw away the gun and sunk the boat.

Imran Ramsaywack

Imran Ramsaywack of Berbice was sentenced to death for the murder of US-based Guyanese businesswoman, Samantha Benjamin, which occurred between March 25 and 26, 2015.

Ramsaywack was found guilty by a jury of murdering Benjamin at her Middle Walk, Buxton home. The woman’s dismembered body was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean along the Annandale foreshore, East Coast Demerara.

Her head, arms, and legs were missing. The woman’s body parts were later pulled from the ocean after a search was conducted by the Police.

Cyon Collier

Meanwhile, Cyon Collier called “Picture Boy”, who was indicted for the 2006 double murder of the two brothers, Ray Walcott, called “Sugar” and Carl Andrews, called “Alo”, was also sentenced to death.

On the dreadful day at Victoria, East Coast Demerara (ECD), he rode up on a motorcycle, stopping where the siblings and a group were playing dominoes. He then pulled out a gun and started shooting at them. (By: Feona Morrison)

(First published in the Guyana Times)